Composers of Today is the first attempt to present a comprehensive work devoted exclusively to modern composers. Approximately two hundred composers are discussed in this book, representing twenty-three different nationalities: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Rumania, Soviet Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United States and Venezuela.
The compiler has for a long time felt that there existed a growing need for a volume of this scope. Orchestras everywhere are giving more and more prominence on their programs to modern composers. The concerts of the Philadelphia and Boston Symphony Orchestras are always havens for new works, due to the laudable experimental temperaments of their brilliant conductors, Leopold Stokowski and Serge Koussevitsky. The League of Modern Composers has newly instituted a procedure whereby important orchestras in America commission talented American composers to create works expressly for them. And the fact that the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York has made provision for modern music, during its 1934-1935 season, by engaging special conductors for this purpose is merely symptomatic of the trend of the times. There is hardly a week during the winter season when new names are not introduced to the growing army of music-lovers over the radio, and the letters which pour in such abundance into the studios after these concerts prove emphatically that this music does not fall upon deaf ears. We are becoming more tolerant toward new expressions in music, and are manifesting a greater curiosity concerning the creators who are giving voice to them.
With modern composers coming more to the fore, and acquiring a greater importance in the eyes of the music-public, it is to be expected that we should desire to know something more about them. Who are these composers? What is their history? What is their idiom? What is their relative position in the bewildering world of modern music? Hitherto, there has existed no source to which the music-lover might turn for answer to these questions. The existing lexicons and dictionaries of music (those of Grove, Alfred Einstein, Hull, Pratt and Riemann) are not only out of date so far as the modern composer is concerned, in that a preponderant number of personalities important today are completely ignored in their pages, but their comments upon those composers included are, with solitary exceptions, so sparse and inadequate as to be hardly enlightening.
It may sound like a truism but it is nevertheless deserving of restatement that an understanding of the many trends and movements thru . . .